The United States and Russia are optimistic that they can soon come to an agreement on missile defense matters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists on Wednesday during a trip to Washington (see GSN, July 13).
Lavrov met with U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ITAR-Tass reported. He said the two took stock of an earlier mandate by their nations' respective presidents "that it is necessary to reach as soon as possible understanding that will be political and will give an opportunity to create reliable political and other frameworks making it possible to launch practical cooperation" on missile defense.
Russia is wary of the United States' plans through 2020 to field increasingly advanced sea- and land based missile interceptors around Europe as a stated hedge to a potential Iranian ballistic missile attack. Moscow fears a scheme to undermine the Russian nuclear deterrent. To assuage those concerns, NATO has invited the Kremlin to take part in the planned European missile shield but the two sides have yet to reach agreement on the architecture of the system (ITAR-Tass, July 14).
Lavrov said he and Clinton also discussed the nuclear impasses with Iran and North Korea and a host of other international security concerns, according to remarks released by the U.S. State Department (see related GSN story, today).
"We identified that there is a possibility to bring our positions closer in the issues where we still have some misunderstandings," Lavrov said. "And in comparison to previous years, we see these problems as workable, and we understand that in some spheres we do not have converging interests, but we promote same aims, and we maintain dialogue" (U.S. State Department release, July 13).